New program helps professionals recognize, report possible child abuse

WEST POINT, Miss. (WCBI) – Child advocacy studies, CAST for short, is a new program designed to help professionals recognize and report possible child abuse cases, and it is quickly taking hold across the state.

“We have 27 schools that have joined the CAST program and have begun implementing that curriculum even as an option or minors for undergrad and graduate programs. So we are super excited. The leader in the state for number of colleges that have jumped on board with that,” said Sheila Brand.

Brand said the CAST program gives students a chance to move out of the classroom, network with the community, and get a hands-on learning experience.

“Without that collaboration, they wouldn’t have an idea of what day-to-day looks like in the field that they are looking at entering as their career choice. So it’s really important that they are just kind of broaden their awareness of not only having the issues facing children, but then who all is involved in finding a solution for them,” said Brand.

It’s not just social workers who benefit from CAST.

“It’s really touching the law-enforcement field, first responder fields, the medical profession, teachers. It takes all of us to recognize child abuse cases, report those, and then jointly investigate those for the best possible outcome is for the kids that are involved in those traumatic experiences,” said Brand.

The program also has the potential to serve as a national model.

“There are states that are trying to mimic what Mississippi is doing and our executive director of the Children’s Advocacy Center in Mississippi is meeting with people in Washington DC talking about how this program has really taken shape in our state and yes I do think it will be a program that is mimicked all across the country which is very exciting,” said Brand.

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